Thursday, April 5, 2012

A variation to the plan

So for a few weeks now I’ve been planning to get my rammed earth formwork finished and get stuck into a test wall panel this long weekend. Not hard, just finish welding and assembling the form panels, cut the last chamfer for the second column and fabricate the rebate block for the lintel.


I’ve been thinking where to build this test panel. I want to make it a full-scale test, which means erecting a 2000x2500x400 lump of earth. This is going to need to be built somewhere level, and preferably on a concrete strip footing. Better still if it were a permanent fixture afterwards rather than something to knock down and dispose of.

Luckily, there is just such a spot - at the west edge of the pump room I’ve planned all along to erect a radiant heat shield for the entry door, and this rammed earth test panel would be perfect for the job.  So let’s build it there then!

Now, this is going to need a proper foundation if it’s permanent, so I drew up a strip footing in Sketchup and then I made my mistake.

I called the building inspector to ask if he’ll want to see it.

Me: “I’m thinking of building a test rammed earth wall before I commit to doing the real ones, in order to determine the correct soil composition and validate my methods.  I thought I might kill two birds with one stone and turn this into a radiant heat barrier for the pump room entry. Will you want to see it?”

Him: “Is it a permanent fixture?”

Me: “Well, yes I suppose it is but it’s not structural, just a heat shield.”

Him: “Then that’s a variation to the building permit for which I will have to charge you, and extra again for an additional inspection. Send me the drawings.”

In the inimitable words of James May, Oh Cock!

Sometimes I should just keep my big fat mouth shut.

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